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Beach town to ban outdoor exercise gear?

September 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A South Bay community where fitness is a way of life is considering a ban on outdoor exercise, at least where equipment, personal trainers and parks are involved. That community is Manhattan Beach. The issue isn't health -- it's safety.If you're going to exercise outside, you'd think Manhattan Beach would be the perfect place: amazing views, nice ocean breezes, and plenty of steep climbs for a challenging workout.

But that could change as Manhattan Beach tries to lose weight -- or, more specifically -- lose weights, and medicine balls, and other kinds of exercise equipment in its city parks.

"Basically it's a ban on fitness equipment at all of our parks and fields," said Wayne Powell, Manhattan Beach City Councilman.

Manhattan Beach officials say this ban isn't really a new idea. In fact, for the past eight years, personal exercise equipment has been banned at Sand Dune Park. The city says it's more a matter of liability and safety.

"People have been tripping over bar-bells, they've been stringing wires and chin-up bars on trees, and it's just gotten really out of control," said Councilman Powell.

At the root of the problem, city officials say, are personal trainers and "boot camps" that make a profit on classes by using publicly owned property, something officials say is against the law.

The new law would require trainers to pay for a permit in order to continue their classes at city parks.

"The clients then have to be charged more in order to make up that fee, and they don't want that either," said personal trainer Michel Carson.

Carson has seen other cities clamp down on trainers at parks, and says it just hurts the people who want to get into shape.

"We're the capital of the United States of fitness and well-being, and if you can't go outside and enjoy it with a fitness professional, it's taking away a lot of what the charm of what Southern California really is," said Carson.

"It's a park, it's a public park, it should be free to everyone," said Manhattan Beach resident Angela Nelson.

"The trainers want to make a living and they're helping people stay fit, they're just using the park, no one else is using it, so what's the big deal?" asked Jonathan Thomas, Manhattan Beach resident.

That's what a lot fitness trainers are asking as well, and Manhattan Beach is giving them something new to sweat about.

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